Archive for September, 2013

A New Review of The Curse Giver

Monday, September 30th, 2013

By

Beverly S. Mcclure

Have you ever felt as though your life has been cursed, that whatever can go wrong will?

Perhaps you’re right.

What if there is such a thing/person/whatever that casts curses on a person or even a whole nation?

A scary thought, right? It may just be possible.

Award Winning Author Dora Machado’s latest fantasy novel, THE CURSE GIVER, deals with curses, betrayal, trust, family loyalty, and love. Lusielle, on the brink of death by being burned alive because her husband turned her in as a practitioner of forbidden arts, is rescued by Lord Brennus, a highborn. He has ulterior motives for saving her life, however. Lord Bren (Brennus) has been cursed to die a horrible death. To save himself and his people he must find the woman with a special birthmark and kill her. Lusielle has that mark, and she also may be the only one who can defeat the curse giver and give Bren hope.

The author has created characters with good points and bad, like real people. They seem realistic for the time period they live in. Lusielle faces her uncertain future with bravery and cunning, surprising Bren more than once. I found myself hoping that Bren would change his mind about killing her. No, I’m not saying what happens between them. You’ll find out when you read the book. Minor characters, and there are a lot of them, add to the suspense and conflict of the story, making the reader, this reader anyway, anticipate their next actions. Thankfully, the author provides a glossary at the end to help keep track of the characters.

THE CURSE GIVER should appeal to fantasy lovers and to readers that enjoy a battle or two with swords swishing. And for those that like a good romance, you might just find it here. Dora Machado has written another winner, so pick up a copy or add one to your eReader and spend the evening, lost in another world.

http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-curse-giver-review.html

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

The Curse Giver on Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

****

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books, July 2013. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.comthingsTheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Sign up for her newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Making of an Audiobook

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

An Interview with Melissa Reizian

One of the best voice actresses in the business tells us how she chooses her projects and why writing for speech is at the heart of successful storytelling

by

Dora Machado

When I started this great adventure of writing, I never dreamed my novels would be published, let alone made into audiobooks. From the first time I typed “The End” at the bottom of a manuscript, to the first time I held each of my books in my hands, every step of this voyage has been filled with lots of emotions and incredible joy. I didn’t expect any less when we embarked in the new adventure of making the Stonewiser series available in audiobook, but I have to say: As an author, listening to the professional narration of Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone has been one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had.

Once the decision was made to create the audiobook, it was an incredible journey. Following the advice that my friend and fellow TTB author, Aaron Paul Lazar, gave in his award-winning Murder by 4 blog,  http://bit.ly/157aX8H, I approached the Stonewiser series’ publisher with the idea. From there on, it went really fast. ACX was contacted. Voice auditions were held. I stepped into a new world where voices became characters and characters developed their own voices. I learned about pitch, tone and accents. I listened in wonder as actors bid to tell the story. None was more gifted than the talented Melissa Reizian. And thus she became my heroine’s enduring voice.

Intrigued by her world, I talked to Melissa Reizian about the process of creating an audiobook, her project selection criteria, and her best advice for writers who want their books to become audiobooks. I also talked to her about her voice’s magical ability to tell a wonderful story and turn a book into a magnificent listening experience.

Welcome, Melissa. Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today. Can you tell us how you first became interested in narrating books?

I have been a full-time voice actor for more than 13 years. Before that, I was a television news reporter/anchor/producer/videographer—a “one-woman band,” we used to call it—and during that time, people always commented on my voice and my delivery. I have always had a “storytelling” kind of voice. I quit the news business when my oldest son was a few years old so I could spend more time with him (and now my two other sons as well!). For the first decade, I focused on commercials, e-learning training voiceovers, and other types of narration. I had a client who presented the opportunity to start auditioning for audiobooks and I jumped on it! Since then, I’ve narrated more than a dozen audiobooks. I feel this is the part of the job I’m most passionate about…and get the biggest sense of pride and reward from doing. It allows me to utilize my acting skills, bringing characters to life, either with fun accents and dialects, or just with intonation and the delivery of the read. I remember my oldest son, Jarod, looking up at me with big, incredulous eyes one night as I was reading the Disney novelization of Treasure Planet to him. I was doing the cat-captain’s voice with a British accent, and he just stared up at me and said, “You can BE HER?” I was hooked!

For those of us who are not familiar with the steps involved in creating an audiobook, can you tell us a little bit about the process?

First, you should always read the book you’re narrating. You would then research any foreign accents or dialects you need to learn.…I usually find other voice actors who are native speakers of that language and ask them to read some of the lines for me.…I’m a good mimic, so that usually is all it takes. If you don’t know what’s coming up in the book, and you are suddenly faced with, “…he said, with his thick Scottish brogue” (which HAS happened to me!), you are in a bit of trouble if you can’t pull it off! (I was told by a native speaker that my first attempt at an Irish accent in a recent romance novel sounded like a “Canadian vampire.” Not sure how he knew what a Canadian vampire sounded like…but I did work on it until it was right!)

I also ask the author his or her intention for any of the characters.…Sometimes we learn something important about a main character in book two of a series, so knowing that she will become a fae, for example, is helpful in giving her lines the appropriate interpretation in book one. As I read, and decide how the characters will sound…accent, rate of speech, confidence, volume, etc.…I record snippets of their lines on my iPhone. Then I refer to this as I go, because sometimes a character is off canvas for a good bit of the book and you forget what he sounds like.

After I record, I edit out any mistakes I’ve made and edit out the dogs barking at the mailman, the neighbor’s lawnmower, the kids running down the hall like a herd of elephants, etc.! I also adjust the length of pauses to make the narrative and dialogue flow appropriately. This is one of the most, if not the most important parts of the process. You may have heard someone read and leave too short or too long of a space between lines. It totally takes you out of the story! Timing is the difference between being immersed in the story and “judging the book.”

How do you select your projects, and what are the elements that make a novel well-suited for narration?

It might seem obvious that it is much easier to do a great job on a book that you actually like! I can attest from personal experience that that is true. For example, with Stonewiser: the Heart of the Stone, I found myself wanting to get back to it to keep Sariah’s story going…. It’s exciting to bring the story to life. There was one book I did—that I did not choose, but rather was assigned—that was horribly written. It made me wonder how it even got published…and it was really, really hard to finish. I found myself making excuses not to get back in the booth with it. So now, I have completely learned my lesson, and only audition for books once I’ve researched them. I look at comments and reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. I also look at the subject matter. I’m certainly not opposed to some story-propelling steamy scenes, but gratuitous, extreme sex is not my bag…because frankly, I have to consider the impact it would have on my boys if they were to hear it, or hear ABOUT it from their friends!  I especially love narrating books that are written in first person (Sorry, Dora! J) because you get to do a “character” the whole time. But just a book that has strong, well-written characters with a story that moves is great. Pretty much the same things you’d look for in choosing a book to READ is what I look for when picking a book to NARRATE. You are spending about 40-50 hours with a 10-hour book from research to mastering, so you better love it!

Why did you choose to work on Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone?

I love fantasy as a genre. I got started really voraciously reading, as a kid, with Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. The idea that there is a whole other world with its own set of rules is just cool. And when it’s a story about real people living in that world, it’s a great escape from reality. Like in your case, Dora, you created this whole other universe that is totally believable because you are careful to maintain all the “rules” you established and write your characters true to themselves.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Actually, figuring out what the characters should sound like was a challenge. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say that there are mysteries revealed as the story develops and all is not what it seems! As these secrets come to light, it becomes a little harder to justify what everyone should sound like. We actually went back and changed some characters’ accents after getting quite far into the book!

What was your favorite part of this project?

I loved the confrontational scenes between Sariah and…well, just about everyone! The girl doesn’t exactly have the easiest time of it! But performing and editing a really strong “acting” scene is very rewarding for me. Also, Dora, your descriptions are just phenomenal! You can “see” what you are writing happen in your head, and I really hope that readers get that from my narration when they listen to it!

What kind of readers do you think might enjoy listening to Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone?

People who love the fantasy genre—or sci-fi—will love it. But I would think this would even be enjoyable to someone who does not label themselves as “fantasy fans” because, when you come right down to it, this is a love story and a story of survival, self-awakening, and liberation. There are powerful messages in this book, as it challenges our notions of one’s “place in society,” the idea that we think we know everything about our enemies, and, to paraphrase my favorite Vulcan, “the needs of the one over the needs of the many.”

What would be your best advice for authors seeking to make their novels into audiobooks?

Write for speech! Nothing is more frustrating that narrating a book and realizing that no one would actually speak that way! Make your characters distinct and well-defined. This gives the narrator a good basis to make acting and voicing choices and helps the listener believe they are real.

I’d like to add that I can’t wait for people to get the chance to experience the audio version of Stonewiser: the Heart of the Stone. You can listen to a free sample at: http://bit.ly/18rUjkS. I really hope you’ll take the time to leave feedback (well, unless you don’t like it! J). I’ve gotta get going now and get back to reading part two—Stonewiser: the Call of the Stone!

Melissa, thank you very much for being my guest today and special thanks for all the hard work and passion that you put into giving voice to Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone.

Thank you so much!

****

Stonewiser The Heart of the Stone Audible

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, the Audible edition, is now available at: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Stonewiser-Audiobook/B00F52CJIY/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1379186069&sr=1-1

And on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/Stonewiser-Heart-Stone-ebook/dp/B001F7ATEO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379351789&sr=1-1&keywords=stonewiser+the+heart+of+the+stone

Contact Melissa Reizian at her website www.YouChoiceVoice.com or email her at Melissa@YourChoiceVoice.com.

About Dora Machado

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books, July 2013. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats. To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com. For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/, sign up for her at newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook and Twitter.

Website: http://www.doramachado.com/

Email: Dora@doramachado.com

Blog: http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoraMachado101

Twitter: @DoraMachado or https://twitter.com/DoraMachado

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/doramachado


A Guest Blog: The Origins of the Displaced Detective

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

By Stephanie Osborn,

The Interstellar Woman of Mystery

I suppose the first thing you should know about me is that, well, I really AM one of those rocket scientists you hear about. With degrees in four sciences and subspecialties in a couple more, I worked in the civilian and military space industries, sitting console in the control centers, training astronauts, you name it; and I lost a friend aboard Columbia, when she broke up over Texas. So yeah, I’m the real deal.

The second thing you need to know about me is that I’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fan… aficionado, whatever word you prefer… since I was a kid. Someone gave me a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles for my birthday one year. I was in, what, third grade? With a hyperactive imagination. Scared me to death when I read it. But I loved Holmes immediately. If I could have done away with the scary story about the Hound, I’d have adored that book even then. It’s one of my favorites now.

By the time I was in high school, I’d discovered that big, single-volume compendium ― you know, the one with the rust-and-mustard dust jacket? If you’re a Holmes aficionado, you know the one I mean. If you don’t, go find it! I read it cover to cover. Wagged it around to every class with me, and every time I had 2 consecutive spare minutes, my nose was in it. Oh, I was devastated when I read The Final Problem. No, really: I went into mourning, like I’d lost family! And I could have turned handsprings for joy when I read The Empty House! Many years later, I acquired that same rust-and-mustard volume and placed it on my own shelves, where it has been read cover to cover many more times. I picked up what are known as “pastiches,” too, efforts by other authors to carry on the adventures, or create entirely new ones, or fill in gaps. (What did Holmes and Watson do when the Martians invaded? What about Jack the Ripper, and why did Watson never chronicle an adventure about him? Didn’t Holmes go after him? What really happened with the Giant Rat of Sumatra?) I watched television and movies ― to this day, I watch the BBC’s Sherlock, and CBS’ Elementary, and even the Guy Ritchie film franchise starring Robert Downey, Jr. And I have the complete set of the Grenada series starring Jeremy Brett, and a bunch of the Basil Rathbone films. Good, bad, or indifferent, they’re all Holmes!

Now, back in Arthur Conan Doyle’s day, they didn’t have all the breakdown of literature into genres that we have today. Today we have science fiction (or SF, with its many subdivisions), fantasy, horror, and such. But all those, in the Victorian era, were lumped together and considered speculative fiction, or “specfic” as it’s known today. As it turns out, many if not most of the Holmes adventures would be considered as specfic ― and I started thinking…

…Other people have “done” Holmes in Victorian-era science fiction…

…But I want to be different. If I write Holmes, I want to do something that’s never been done before…

…Aha. What if, somehow, I could manage to drag Holmes into the modern world to go adventuring?

How to do it…how to do it…

I researched and I studied. And then it hit me.

What if I use the concept of alternate realities, which more and more scientific data indicates are real, and I combine that with something called M theory in order to be able to access them…

…And I was off!

I already had several novels written but unsold by that point, and there was publisher interest in my first one, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. (Yes, I like to mix science fiction and mystery. It seems to come naturally to me; I’ve always thought a good SF story has a distinct element of the mysterious. That’s why I got dubbed The Interstellar Woman of Mystery by certain media personalities.) So I knew about writing novels: See, it isn’t about page count, it’s about word count.

Different genres define book length by different word counts. YA is relatively short, say 50,000-80,000 words. The romance genre generally defines a novel at roughly the same word count. But SF and mystery, for instance, consider a novel to run from about 80,000-110,000 words, maybe a smidge more. (Think about the thinness of a typical Harlequin Romance as compared to, say, a Baen military SF novel.) There’s an arcane formula that ties word count to final page count, and another that determines the list price from the page count. So these are important numbers, these word counts.

Now that’s not to say that you can’t go over; you can… provided your last name is something like King, Weber, or Rowling. Because publishers know those names will sell books regardless of length. Everybody else? Don’t be too short OR too long.

So I sat down to write The Case of the Displaced Detective, the first story in what has become my Displaced Detective series, described rather aptly as, “Sherlock Holmes meets the X-Files.”

Two months ― yes, you read that right, months, not years ― later, I’d completed the rough draft… and it stood at 215,000 words. Writing that manuscript was kinda like tryin’ to hold a wide-open fire hose all by yourself. I ate at the computer. I all but slept at the computer. That story just came pouring out. I couldn’t stop until it was all written. By the time I’d polished it, it had ballooned up to around 245,000 words, and I managed to whack it down to about 230,000.

But it was too big for a single book. And nobody could figure out how to cut it down without cutting out essential parts ― not me, not agent, not editor, not publisher. See, it was really two stories in one: it was an “origin story” of sorts, how Holmes came to be in the 21st century, AND it had a mystery. It needed all of those 230,000 words to tell the story properly.

In the end, my publisher and I decided to make two volumes of it. That’s why, when you look at the covers, you don’t just see The Arrival, or At Speed. You see The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival, and The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed. There’s not a hard and fast break between the origin story and the mystery; in fact the mystery starts within days of Holmes landing in the 21st century in The Arrival, and he is still trying to come to terms with everything in At Speed.

Then I went on to write the next story, The Case of the Cosmological Killer.

And durned if the same thing didn’t happen! Only this one took a smidge longer, because it was interrupted by an illness. All told I think it took about a year or so. And so books 3 & 4 are The Case of the Cosmological Killer: The Rendlesham Incident, and The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings.

I swear they’re not all going to be two volumes! In fact I just turned in A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, and it’s one volume only! I’ve started on book 6, A Little Matter of Earthquakes, and book 7, The Adventure of Shining Mountain Lodge, is mostly finished and awaiting the publication of 5 & 6. And I’m planning for adventures beyond that.

So in a manner of speaking, I suppose I’m still adventuring with my old pal Sherlock Holmes… only now he’s investigating mysteries that are more on MY turf! And I plan to do so until we both retire to the Sussex downs to keep bees!

Stephanie Osborn The Arrival

http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Arrival-ebook/dp/B0063XNLQ8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379438646&sr=1-1&keywords=The+arrival+by+Stephanie+Osborn

About Stephanie Osborn:

Stephanie Osborn, Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs. She worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons effects.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several more, including geology and anatomy. In addition she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter.

Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 20 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The Mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the “Cresperian Saga,” book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed “Displaced Detective” series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files.” She recently released the paranormal/horror novella El Vengador, based on a true story, as an ebook.

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com/

Stephanie Osborn Author Pic

How Fantasy Loves Romance and Romance Loves Fantasy

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

by

Dora Machado

People ask me all the time why I chose to write romantic fantasy. The short answer is that I can’t envision writing one without the other. The long answer might be a little more complex. The union of fantasy and romance is a marriage of convenience. The genres complement, enhance and enrich each other. Beyond that, romance and fantasy are the Yin and the Yang, ebony and ivory, Billy Joel and Elton John. They belong together.

I love writing epic fantasy. Fantasy is a subversive genre, requiring the mind to bend and the imagination to flex, perfectly suited for me. I love the genre’s creative freedom, the opportunity to rethink, redesign and reinterpret the human experience in fresh and diverse settings, and the mysteries that magic brings to the human equation. But fantasy without romance is like lemonade without lemons–blah, tasteless, inert. Add a voluptuous romance to a well-crafted fantasy and POW! Now you’ve got a story with grit.

This is exactly what I’ve tried to do in all of my books, and my latest novel, The Curse Giver from Twilight Times Books, is no exception. The Curse Giver is about an innocent healer named Lusielle, who is betrayed and condemned to die for a crime she didn’t commit. When she’s about to be executed, Lusielle is rescued from the pyre by an embittered lord doomed by a mysterious curse. You might think that Bren, Lord of Laonia, is Lusielle’s savior, but he isn’t. On the contrary, Bren is pledged to kill Lusielle, because her murder is his people’s only chance at salvation.

The curse tormenting the Lord of Laonia is at the action crux of the story, but it’s really the relationship between Bren and Lusielle that gives meaning to this grand adventure. The gradual transformation of enemies into allies, the clash of conflicted hearts and the forbidden passion that blooms between them, balance the action, deepen the story, and imbue the tale with a sense of gritty realism. This is the part that makes the reader care and the writer write. This is the part that gives me goose bumps. As Lusielle and Bren prepare to challenge the curse giver who has already conjured their ends, they must find the magic within, the inner strength to save not just themselves, but each other. In the end, romance lends fantasy the concept of affection, and affection turns out to be the most powerful magic of all.

In my fantasy novels, romance is not just a component of the story; it is the heart of the story. In my view, romance enhances fantasy by connecting the story to the experience of love, personal struggle and acceptance. Without this connection, fantasy loses balance, meaning, focus, depth and perspective. The stories I want to tell are lush, vivid, passionate and exuberant. I can’t imagine telling them without a sizzling romance sprouting right in the middle of it all to make a mess of things. At the end of the day, that might very well be why I chose to write romantic fantasy. I like to make a mess of things and romantic fantasy is as much fun to read as it is to write.


TheCurseGiver_ad_HR (1)

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats. To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

Subscribe to Dora’s blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/.

Sign up for Dora’s at newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook and Twitter.

Watch The Curse Giver‘s Book Trailer at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv8WFYpdqQo&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1

Author Links:

Website: http://www.doramachado.com/

Email: Dora@doramachado.com

Blog: http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Newsletter: http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoraMachado101

Twitter: @DoraMachado or https://twitter.com/DoraMachado

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/doramachado

A Review of The Curse Giver by Bibliotica.com

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Here is a new, unique and delicious review of The Curse Giver by Bibliotica.com. And to think that sharp cheddar cheese is my absolute favorite….

Enjoy!

D.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any real fantasy. I mean, yes, I’m slowly working my way through George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, but that world is reasonably similar to our own medieval history, with only a few ‘fantastic’ elements. I was in the mood for escapist reading this summer, however, so when the nice folks and Pump Up Your Book offered me the chance to read an epic fantasy novel, I jumped at the chance.

The problem with epic fantasy is that very often the fictional world feels as flat as a movie set, with no real depth or history. Dora Machado’s The Curse Giver, on the other hand, plunges us into a world so rich, and so well constructed, it feels almost as if we could step sideways into it. One of the early sections, particularly, when Lousielle and Bren are crossing the bog, had me squirming as much as if I was actually there with them avoiding creepy crawlies.

Her main characters are three dimensional, and Lousielle especially, was so smart and spunky that I wanted to be her best friend. Herb lore is something I’ve always been quietly interested in (witness the collection of herbals in my Word Lounge), so her affinity for plants and potions really drew me in.

Likewise, while Bren could have been Generic Quasi-medieval Noble #17, Machado made him complex and interesting (and gave him a great body, which we appreciate vicariously through Lousielle).

The other characters, good and evil alike, were, similarly, sketched with fine lines, not the broad strokes of generic fantasy.

I’ve read that Ms. Machado is bilingual, having grown up in the Dominican Republic, and I think some of the charm of The Curse Givercomes from her – probably unconscious – Spanish-influenced rhythms. It’s nothing you could point your finger to and say, “Look, that’s not typical English phrasing,” but a quiet undercurrent that makes the writing really SING.

(I am not bilingual, but I grew up in a New Jersey Neapolitan family where an Italian-English hybrid was the norm. As well, I’m a natural mimic, and my parents retired to Baja Sur, Mexico, about a decade ago, so those Latin-tinged rhythms are familiar to me.)

Overall, I thought The Curse Giver was a delicious read, and it’s compelled me to seek out more of Machado’s work. I think it’s an especially good choice for women who like epic fantasy, but have gotten out of the habit of reading it.

Goes well with… a mug of steaming chai and sharp cheddar melted on toasted rustic wheat bread.

http://www.bibliotica.com/2013/09/review-the-curse-giver-by-dora-machado/

The Curse Giver from Amazon


Working the Marketing Plan – Local Independent Book Stores: A Guest Blog By Scott Eder

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

I’m really excited to introduce to you my talented Twilight Times Books colleague, fantasy author Scott Eder, whose first novel, Knight of Flame will be coming out October 15th, 2013. In this excellent blog, he shares his adventure while visiting his local independent bookstore.

Enjoy!

D.

***

Working the Marketing Plan – Local Independent Book Stores

With Knight of Flame coming out on October 15th, I turned the crank on my great wheel of marketing to the notch labeled—Local Independent Book Stores (LIBS). While a tremendous amount of work can be done online, there is no substitute for, or a peripheral device yet invented that replaces, a firm handshake, and that personal touch.

Building relationships is still important, still relevant, and a great way to garner support at your local independent book seller. It’s not a one visit, wham, bam, buy my book, kind of deal. It can be, if your end goal is to see your book on their shelves; but, if you actually want the store personnel to keep you in mind and recommend your books to their customers, it takes a little more time and attention. I learned a lot during my first visit, and would like to share it with you.

The LIBS I targeted is touted as one of the biggest new and used book stores in Florida. They host quite a few author events, as evidenced by the huge array of signed book cover posters along the walls. These guys have been around a long, long time, founded in 1933 to be exact. I haven’t been in a store like that in years. The arid smell—of old paper, dust, adventure, and wisdom—filled the place. I loved it.

Now, I’ve been in tons of bookstores before, but as a reader. This was my first sojourn with more on my mind than picking up the latest release from Brooks, Farland, Anderson, Owen, or several of my other favorites. So, my expectations were low. I wanted to go in, look around, introduce myself, ask how they made stocking decisions, buy a book (I didn’t want to take up their time without giving something in return), and call it a successful recon mission with a plan to come back in a few weeks.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

I struck up a conversation with one of the guys behind the desk. It only lasted a few minutes, but I got the chance to introduce myself, handed him my business card, and mentioned that I had a book coming out soon. He gave me the owner’s card in return and suggested I give him a call. Done. Nothing major, but I was nice, made the initial contact, and gained the information I needed. Mission accomplished.

Free to peruse the shelves, I found the Fantasy section. Being an avid Fantasy guy, most of the other shelves, and there were shelves everywhere, appear grayed out to me anyway. While perusing the new releases, the gentleman I had spoken to, Roger (name changed to protect the innocent), walked over and picked up the conversation where we left off. We talked about some of the different authors, and then changed topics to cover art.

Roger appeared to be roughly my age, give or take, and he’d worked in the store since he was three, THREE, said he started in the comic book room. Based on his confident demeanor, and the comfortable, familiar way he talked about the authors that had held signings over the years, I got the impression he’d seen just about every book that had come out in the last thirty years worth seeing.

We discussed some of the old Frank Frazetta and Boris Valejo covers from the ’80s, among other things. Then, in the midst of Roger bemoaning the trend of some Sci-Fi covers being too abstract, I offered to show him my cover art. I mean, what could it hurt? We were in the midst of the cover conversation and he seemed to know a lot about the topic. He said, “Uh, sure.” Not overly enthused, but willing to take a peek. (He mentioned earlier that the owner of the store gets at least twenty calls a day from authors asking for him to stock their books. I bet he sees all kinds of covers, all the time. By his demeanor I assume that most aren’t all that spectacular.)

So, I pulled my cover up on my cell phone. Did I mention that I love technology?

Roger’s eyes widened. His stance changed. He stared at the cover. “That’s a really good cover.” His voice sounded deeper, different than it was before the reveal. “You know, every book is judged by its cover. I don’t care what anyone says. And yours is really good.”

His demeanor changed. I felt he took me more seriously. That great conversation we were having before just took on a new level of subtext.

Still on the topic of cover art, he pulled me to another section in the store, explaining how one particular cover sold well. It was a serious military series with a rifle on the cover. Nothing else. It left no question as to what the story was about. He related that the publisher was concerned that the cover was too serious, and rebuffed some readers who were looking for an element of romance. But there was decidedly no romance in the series. At all. None. Still, they changed that cover, depicting an abstract human torso dressed in a nebulous uniform. It gave no clues as to what the story was about, and the artwork sucked (his words). Sales for that entire series tanked. Roger said that he practically had to force people to check it out. Once they did, though, the story sold the rest of the series.

Since our relationship had evolved, and we were talking about a series of cover, I boldly took another step forward. I explained the plan for the changing covers in my four-book series. There are three consistent POV characters throughout my series to ground the reader. In each book, there is an additional POV character, typically one of the other members of the Knights Elementalis. I explained that each cover would showcase the face of that new POV character in the same style as my Knight of Flame cover. The next book features the Knight of Air.

Again, he paused for a moment, taking in the new information. Eyes wide, assessing, mulling over the possibilities, he said, “That sounds really cool. That could work well. Very distinctive.”

I got the same impression as before, could even see it on his face.

We talked about a few other things, moseying about the store. He kept track of the work going on around him, making sure the guys behind the counter could handle the steady flow of customers. When we got to the subject of local writers using recognizable settings in their work, I couldn’t resist. I mean, he lobbed a big juicy pitch over the center of the plate, I had to swing for the fence.

“Hmm,” I said. “Knight of Flame takes place here in the Tampa/St. Pete area. There’s an epic battle atop the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and major events take place on the top floor of the Regions Bank building in downtown Tampa. I’ve got a strong mix of real and fantasy settings in the story.”

He waited for me to continue.

“While the first book in the series is primarily local, the next book expands to the west coast, Canada, and Europe as the influence of the Gray Lord is felt on a more global scale. It escalates further from there until things wrap up in book four. My plan was to build a large story that would draw in readers all over the world.”

He smiled and nodded as I spoke. “Sounds really good.” That’s when he told me the process to win over LIBS. I’ll paraphrase.

  1. When you go into an independent book store, don’t talk about the big retailers like Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. It really doesn’t matter to them how much you’ve sold through the other guys. Focus on the store at hand.
  2. Be nice. Roger called out a number of the authors on the wall, all exceedingly nice people. He mentioned a few others, no posters marking their presence, giving examples of how not to behave.

That’s it. The key is to be nice. Got it. Roger that, er…uhm, Roger.

Business picked up in the store, so he excused himself. Not to belabor the issues, or to push my luck, I paid for my selections and left, exhilarated.

I’ve had a few days to mull this phenomenal adventure over, and I think there are more steps for a successful visit than Roger let on. I lucked out to some degree. I always try to be nice on general principal, and I have no past history with the big book dogs, so there was no way for me to cross the line there. Here’s the process I came up with:

  1. Be Professional
    1. Plan the trip – Don’t go in on a whim. Set the date and treat it like a business meeting.
    2. Look decent – Look the part. Be the protagonist in your own author success story.
    3. Leave a business card – A good looking, professional business card will enhance their perception of you, and leave a souvenir of your visit.
  2. Be Nice
    1. Courteous
    2. Respectful
    3. Watch language – treat the encounter like it’s a professional business meeting.
    4. Get to the point – don’t waste their time.
  3. Be Prepared – if you follow the first two points, especially number two, be prepared to take it to the next level. Create the opportunity to sell yourself and your work.
    1. Cover art – my awesome cover art was done by Brad Fraunfelter – www.bradfraunfelterillustration.com
    2. Back cover copy
    3. Story pitch – you’re not selling to an agent or editor, but you are trying to interest someone in your work.
    4. Anything else you might be able to use to tell your story
  4. If you have the means, buy a book – the LIBS guys and gals need to eat too, and your to-be-read pile can never be too large.

That’s it. Simple, right? Now, go out and win over your LIBS.

****

About Scott Eder

Since he was a kid, Scott Eder wanted to be an author. Through the years, fantastic tales of nobility and strife, honor and chaos dominated his thoughts. After twenty years mired in the corporate machine, he broke free to bring those stories to life.

Scott lives with his wife and two children on the west coast of Florida.

KnightofFlame_med

Scott Eder’s upcoming Knight of Flame

Fire. The most chaotic of the primal elements. When wielded properly by the Knight of Flame, it burns like the sun. Otherwise, it slowly consumes the Knight, burning away his control, driving him towards dark deeds.

Stationed in Tampa, FL, Develore Quinteele, sixth Knight of Flame, waits impatiently for the predicted emergence of the last Gray Lord, his Order’s ancient enemy. Hampered by a centuries-old tragedy, Dev knows of only one way to control his elemental power—rage. It broils just below his surface, waiting for the slightest provocation to set it alight.

After a brutal attack by the Gray Lord’s minions for which Dev is blamed, he’s stripped of his freedom until he learns to control his violent impulses. With the help of his fellow Knights, can he balance his rage and unlock his true elemental potential to prevent Tampa’s devastation?

Knight Of Flame, coming October 15th, 2013.

For additional information about Scott Eder and his novels, please contact Scott at:

Email – scotteder@verizon.net

Website – www.scotteder.net

Blog – madmuncleforge.blogspot.com/

Facebook – www.facebook.com/knightselementalis

Twitter – @scotteder